Institutions of higher education in Ethiopia will not get enough students this year as hundreds of thousands of Ethiopian Students failed to score the minimum passing grades
Ethiopia’s Ministry of Education unveiled this week a reality about the state of the quality of education in the country. While it was something expected, the degree of intensity of the problem shook the nation to the core.
Dr. Berhanu Nega told the nation that only 3.3 percent of students who wrote the National High School Leaving Examination got a passing grade of 50 percent or above.
The exam was administered in October 2022 and over 900,000 students from across 2,959 schools wrote the exam. 1,161 schools did not even have a single student who scored 50 percent or more of the passing grade.
The number of students who scored 50 percent or more is 29,909. In the natural science stream, the number of students who got a passing or higher grade is 22,936 and in the social science stream, it is only 6,973.
It is based on the national exam result that students join institutions of higher learning in the country. Universities across Ethiopia are said to have the capacity of accepting over 120,000 students at a time.
Passing rate used to be much higher compared to this year.
What has changed?
Unlike the arrangements to administer the exam, the new Minister Dr. Berhanu Nega, who is the leader of the Ethiopian Citizens for Social Justice Party – an opposition party, introduced an arrangement for high school students to write the national exam, not in their own ethnic-based towns and regions. They were required to travel outside of their hometown.
The arrangement was made to avert recurring cheating during the exam which is mostly politically motivated and arranged by ethnic-based politicians in the regions. Exams used to be stolen days before they were administered and students were given cheat sheets, and the answers for the exams were released on social media platforms too.
There was a point in time when the Ethiopian government had to introduce internet blackout until exams were fully administered. But that too did not deter meaningfully. Ethnic-based regions were competing on the number of students that got a passing mark from their respective ethnic-based regions.
“The result [for this year] is reflective of the state of our education system and we all have to work to bring about fundamental change,” Dr. Berhanu Nega remarked. However, he added, the result lays a foundation for the credibility of grade 12 leaving examinations in the future.
The negative impact of ethnic politics on the education system in the country has been one of the points of criticism against the government for over two decades.
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